January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton


The moment: Obama looks toward Sen. Clair McCaskill as Kennedy and Clinton shake hands. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(CNN) - It seems a snub is in the eye of the beholder.

The question swirling around Barack Obama Tuesday: did he, or didn’t he, deliberately snub presidential rival Hillary Clinton at the State of the Union speech?

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Illinois senator said all the talk swirling around the moment the two crossed paths Monday night is much ado about nothing. (Watch Obama comment on the moment.)

"I was surprised by sort of the reports this morning," Obama told reporters. "You know there was the photograph in the Times about, sort of, me turning away. I was turning away because [Sen.] Claire [McCaskill] asked me a question as Sen. [Ted] Kennedy was reaching for her."

"Sen. Clinton and I have very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night," he continued. "I think that there's just a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

The moment came at Monday's speech when Clinton headed to shake hands with a congressman seated in front of Obama. CNN's Jessica Yellin reports that Kennedy, seated directly next to Obama, then moved to shake Clinton's hand. As the two senators spoke, Obama turned to look at the back of the room. It was only after Obama turned away, Yellin reports, that McCaskill struck up a conversation with Obama.

McCaskill also commented on the incident Tuesday, calling it "one of those accidents that just happened and got caught on film."

"There was a wave and there was a friendly moment," she said at an Obama campaign press availability. "And I think that, as somebody who watched the whole thing, I was amazed when I woke up this morning and I was part of it, I didn’t even realize. I mean, it was one of those things that all of a sudden it's being blown into something that it frankly just wasn’t."

- CNN's Chris Welch and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (2,059 Responses)
  1. Tracy

    Come on CNN this is un-cause for...not news.

    January 29, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Carol

    There are only a few differances in what both candidates would like to see happen in the White House. The only difference is gender and color and most of all experiance! And that would be Hillary Clinton. She does have a proven track record of accomplishments and yes far more and longer then Obama.

    I question his relationship with Louis Farrakhn!!! In 1984 he whent to Palestine with Louis Farrakhn to understand and fight for their causes! Before we know it Farrakhn will be at the head of the table requesting all our troops and money to support his causes.

    Please do your homework on Obama in order to understand where he is coming and going with this country. Can he really be trusted? Obama can give a nice speach but that doesn't tell you much about the candidate. Read and learn!

    January 29, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Tracy

    Come on CNN this is un-cause for...this not news.

    January 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. CDH

    And of course, if anyone had reason to turn away it was Hillary who might have been excused for not greeting Sen Kennedy. Yet, she sucked it up and did what she is required to do. I'm sure it was ackward for Obama but he really needs to be a little more mature about such things. Given that he had just garnered such great media in the morning, he should have been much more magnanimous.

    His explanation doesn't ring true from this picture - McCaskill isn't even looking at him at the moment. She's looking towad Hillary.

    It does remind me of the "you are likeable enough, hillary" snarl.

    January 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Marlon Hill

    It clears that folks, including the media, will try to find controversy wherever it can be found to fuel the most compelling political story in recent time. Let's get over ourselves.

    January 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. paula monroe nc

    Could we just STOP wasting time on this silly crap and spend it doing something for AMERICAN VETERANS homelees and sleeping on the street?? Or AMERICAN CHILDREN going to bed hungry???

    January 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Liz

    Attention Editor in Charge: Whoever is covering this stuff needs to get taken off the campaign beat. Their unbiased news judgement has abandoned them. This is not a story.

    January 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Tracy, Los Angeles, CA

    Which story is it? He looked away because it was an "awkward" moment as Obama's Media Advisor, Axelrod, stated? Or because Claire McCaskill tapped him on the shoulder and drew his attention away from the scene? Spin, Obama, spin, spin.

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Roxanne NY

    What?!!?? You're either with us or against us?

    Where did we hear that before?

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. brende

    He definately had waved to Hillary earlier.It was one of the very imp functions of the yeare with so many people. believe me if it actually happened Clinton would have been the first to make it known.
    Im not going to focus on such, i believe he will make a good president. He is after all human. he doesnt have to be seen shaking everyones hand and have a pasted smile. he is human after all, the campaighn as you know is not an easy task-

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. mike


    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Shelle

    Both of them act childish

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. thinkunbiased

    I am not a Clinton supporter. I dislike intensely but at least I admire her when she reached to Kennedy when only a few hours before Kennedy endorsed Obama. Obama is not the person that he professes to be, A Uniter. And he is lying outright. I guess he will have hard time with Republicans. Whether Hillary or Obama, it will be another 4yrs of acrimony.

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Lilly

    Ocean – "Funny how the Obama supporters are say it's nothing; it's not news worthy; let's move on, etc., etc. Well, that's what I have been saying when CNN and the rest of the "bias" news media kept distorting everything the Clintons said (the "fairytale". MLK/LBJ, Jesse Jackson, race, Clinton's anger, etc.) – didn't you join in on the Clinton bashing? I, on the other hand, have seen the media's guilt in fanning the flames of divisiveness and have not fallen for it.
    Let us (decent people) make a pledge right now (regardless of who you support) to REJECT this behavior from the media and let's focus on the real issues. Can we do that? Thanks"

    Oh my. You just took the words right out of my mouth! We should be reading into this only to understand how ridiculous the media has become, insulting our voter intelligence. They did the same to Hillary, now they are doing it to Obama.

    Let us be smarter than this, no matter who you support. Let us not give in to this media madness.

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. melissa

    Who cares!

    January 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Coming Awakening

    Why are you censoring me?

    I see other comments going through...cnn, you are stuck in the 1980's.

    You let this comment go through but not me?

    "Mitt Romney January 29, 2008 4:07 pm ET
    I have no idea why you ladies like Obama. Sources indicate he has a 'little' one."

    First of all, Mitt Romney? That is a fake. And then the comment about someone sexual organs? But I am censored?

    Please stop.

    January 29, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. Ben

    I'm in highschool and I feel right now that emotions are getting in the way of America's common sense when reading these comments. It is a photo. How can you sit there and say what, why, and how someone is doing something in a photo of no real importance.

    To those saying this is a reason they aren't voting for Obama....let me just say how crazy that sounds. You won't vote for him because he supposedly didn't want to talk to Clinton? That must be why we had Bush the last two terms.

    January 29, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. BeFair

    Vince from Arizona, listen carefully..
    THIS... IS... AN....ISSUE

    That's because, all this while, Obama has been basking in glory because he is portrayed as Uniter, Honest and as a Victim. This is the sole reason he gained popularity. Well, people had not watched him earlier. Now he is under the lens. Same lens as clinton has been all this time and now he is showing the true color.

    As some one above said, you can not trust what a person blabbers, but Body Language certainly shows up a person's character.

    He certainly behaved cheap and childish and remember, BODY LANGUAGE DON"T LIE and THIS... IS... AN....ISSUE.

    January 29, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. omike2006

    I know obama can't be trusted, he has reason for every incident, even when it is obvious that he truly snub Hilary Clinton, this a man who said he is uniter, well there you go mr uniter.

    January 29, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Roxanne NY

    Obama's got some 'splaining to do!

    January 29, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Juan

    I always doubted conservative commentary on CNN being the Clinton News Network. I brushed it off.

    Now I'm pretty convinced.

    CNN you are terrible.

    January 29, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. Stewart D.

    It was a snub. First, I think the room was too loud for anyone to be asking questions while applauding. Secondly, I don't see McCaskell's mouth moving and her eyes are closed; she's not even looking at Obama. Thirdly, it looks more like Obama turned away and perhaps addressed someone in order to look in the other direction. There were many chances for him to have acted like a mature adult. He chose not to shake Senator Clinton's hand; a hand he might need one day.

    If Obama plans on bringing the Universe together to live as one, this does not look like a popular approach to that. I am sure Obama is a nice guy and perhaps a good lawyer. President of the United States, I don't think so.

    January 29, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. CST

    I posted here early on before Obama denied snubbing her. The mood was entirely different and many were giving him the benefit of the doubt (deservedly). Now that he has compounded his immaturity with dishonesty the mood in here has turned down right angry.

    So that begs the question: For someone who is coming off of a crushing win in SC and a huge endorsement from Camelot, how could one be so oblivious to the fact that millions of people around the world are watching your every move as your main political rival is approaching you?

    Immaturity and dishonesty or just...stupidity? I hope for our sake it's the first one. We've had enough stupidity for the last 7 years.

    January 29, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. norman wishman

    Obama's commercials ran in Florida. Isn't that the same as Obama campaigning? So instead of of picking on Hillary, why don't you tell your audience what hasppened? Hillary complained about his commercials airing in Florida, but to no avail.

    January 29, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Oy...

    Where is the transparency and truth?

    It's not just a picture but also description from people there.

    If you want a new politic and unit people, STOP treating people like a fool.

    Obama, I’m so sick of your good guy ACTING.

    January 29, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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